Friday, April 2, 2010

Autism Awareness Day

I opened up my reader this a.m. to see that today is autism awareness day.  I actually laughed.  Every day is autism awareness day at my house.  On the one hand, my eldest has Aspergers and in some ways is definately not as significantly impacted as others with autism.  But he is still impacted in some profound ways and simple living when you are talking about autism isn't simple at all.

There are the charts that hang on our fridge to help cue him for daily routines.  Because without it, he won't shave.  He won't remember to eat unless I call him to a meal.  If he is given the opportunity to make a meal on his own without our input it will be 3 carrots and a piece of cheese with a piece of fruit.  Great if you are trying to diet I guess.  If you are prone to getting dizzy and passing out from low blood sugar, not so much.

There was the conversation I had with him this week regarding church.  The director of the RE program called and explained she had received a call from a concerned parent.  The parent has a teen daughter who felt intimidated when Chet stood too close to her at fellowship.  He talked with her extensively and the girl felt she could not readily break away from him.  On the plus side, the parents involved don't think Chet was deliberately trying to intimidate or sexually harrass their daughter.  They get that he is disabled.  On the negative side, that does not mean that this type of behavior is acceptable.

I spoke with Chet about it and it was predictably hard to explain.  "But I was just being friendly the way I am to everyone," is his perception.  And in many ways this is true.  He has always had space issues. He is about 6 inches from you when he is engaged in conversation.  Truthfully, it doesn't bother me.  I have so many things that I need to correct him about that when he is talking with me  I don't stress him being on top of me.  If he gets what I am saying, that is enough for me.  But I have always explained that others have a space bubble, and that he needs to remember that.  Also, where he is tall, at over 6 feet, when he is close to a shorter person and talking, it feeling to them like he is looming over them.  But despite the conversation, it means that for a while I will need to watch him more closely at fellowship time to make sure that this is not happening and to reinforce what we have been talking about at home.  I know he needs that, but I hurt for him when this happens.  He is 24 but not an adult in the truest sense of the word.  And he is intelligent enough to feel discomfort at the level of involvement that is sometimes necessary to keep him safe and others comfortable with him.

And yet, he is in his own way, thoughtful, giving and very intelligent.  And I am thankful that he is my son.

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